Learn to Play : Designing Tutorials for Video Games book cover
1st Edition

Learn to Play
Designing Tutorials for Video Games

ISBN 9781482220193
Published June 3, 2014 by A K Peters/CRC Press
171 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

See How to Unobtrusively Incorporate Good Teaching into Your Game’s Mechanics

Learn to Play: Designing Tutorials for Video Games shows how to embed a tutorial directly into your game design mechanics so that your games naturally and comfortably teach players to have fun. The author deciphers years of research in game studies, education, psychology, human–computer interaction, and user interface and experience that equip you to make dynamic tutorials that help players enjoy your games.

The book links game design principles with psychology through the game tutorial. It offers easy-to-implement changes that can make a huge difference in how players receive your games. It explains how you can educate new players and engage experienced players at the same time through a combination of good design and basic understanding of human educational, motivational, and cognitive psychologies.

Transcending disciplinary boundaries, this book improves your understanding of the science of learning and the art of teaching. It helps you design game mechanics, or tutorials, that teach people how to have fun with your games without ever feeling as though they’re being instructed.

Table of Contents

Video Games
Video Game Tutorials
Cheat Sheet

The Tutorial
What Is a Tutorial?
Why Tutorials Are Necessary
How Tutorials Teach
Three Tutorials in the Wild
Examples of Existing Tutorials in Current Games
You’ve Said Right and Wrong: Why?
Cheat Sheet

Learning Things
How People Learn Stuff
Why People Choose to Learn Stuff
How to Teach People Stuff
Cheat Sheet

Frustration and Boredom
Cognitive Apprenticeship
"Flow" and Other Reasons People Keep Playing
Clear Outcomes
Cheat Sheet

Facts about Players
Age and the Education Gap
(Experience + Skill)/Challenge = Fun
It Is Never Okay to Throw the Controller
The Big Five Motivational Factors and Games
Cheat Sheet

Eyes and Ears
Visual Stuff in Games
Audible Stuff in Games
Why Does This Matter?
Mayer’s Principles: Designing Learning for Our Eyes and Ears
Cheat Sheet

Return of the Tutorial: Escape from Skull Island
Escape from Skull Island
Overview of Mechanics and Gameplay
Controls and Inputs Overview
Interface Structure and Overview
Tutorials and Learning in Escape from Skull Island

Bullet Point Learning Design
There Are Really Three Things
No Exclusionary Mechanics
No "Club" Behaviors
Offer Learning Support
Follow the Cognitive Principles
Let Skilled Players Be Skillful as Fast as Possible
Reward Failures
No Small Punishments
No Small Rewards
Immediate Feedback on All Inputs
Massive Explosions of Juiciness
Harsh and Brutal Corrections of Unwanted Behaviors
Rewards Must Scale in Their Splendor and Awesomeness
Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment
Test and Retest Player Skill Level
Use Just-in-Time Tactics to Reward Continued Play
Procedural and Dynamic Rewards and Punishments
You Cannot Have Too Many Data Collection Hooks

Appendix: Further Reading


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Matthew M. White is an assistant professor in game development at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, where he teaches game design, computer science, and software engineering. He previously worked on interfaces, human-computer interaction, and game programming at the University of Prince Edward Island and Snow Day Games, a small indie studio. He earned his M.Ed. in instructional design and technology focusing on the design of games from the University of New Brunswick and his Ph.D. in education from Memorial University of Newfoundland, co-supervised through York University’s Education and Game Studies faculty.